Before the first pitch of the 2015 season was thrown, the Mets learned that Jenrry Mejia, who did a great job as a closer in 2014, would miss the first half of the season for using a banned substance, Stanozolol.
A week later, third baseman David Wright, the face of the franchise, incurred a hamstring injury. He was immediately placed on the disabled list and is not expected to return to action for at least another three weeks.
In past years, fans and the local sports media would panic and immediately put up the white flag any time that the Mets captain had to miss extended playing time. That has not been the case this year as there seems to be a collective “it’s not the end of the world” shrug.
Granted, David Wright had a forgettable 2014 and thus there are lessened expectations. Also mitigating Wright’s loss is that his understudy, Eric Campbell, is no slouch at the plate and has a decent glove as well.
The Mets organization and the faithful have to wonder though if the baseball gods are toying with them after Sunday’s game. While in the process of sweeping the Miami Marlins for their eighth consecutive win the Mets lost two key players to fractured bone injuries. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was hit by an errant pitch from AJ Ramos, while a shot off of the bat of Marlins hitter Dee Gordon got reliever Jerry Blevins in the left forearm which is his throwing arm.
I have rarely been accused of being a Pollyanna but things may not be as dire for the Mets as they seem.
Even if the Mets had been able to stay 100% healthy the odds are that they wouldn’t be able to sustain their current high level of play. There will be heartbreaking losses and losing streaks no matter what. It’s how quickly the Amazins can shake them off that will determine where they wind up this year.
It’s only April and the odds are very good that both d’Arnaud and Blevins will be back by the All-Star Game break if not sooner. The Mets always seem to fall apart in the second half and perhaps having these two players in fresh condition should help change that dynamic.
The Mets have options at catcher. Kevin Plawecki, a first-round pick in the 2012 amateur draft, appears ready for the big leagues. Anthony Recker has long excelled in a back-up role and my guess is that he will get a significant number of starts while d’Arnaud recuperates.
Replacing Jerry Blevins, who appeared to be unhittable against lefty batters, won’t be easy. The good news is that the Mets bullpen should get valuable reinforcements in a couple of weeks, when hard-throwing righthanders Vic Black and Bobby Parnell are expected to come off of the disabled list.
Mets fans aren’t a sentimental bunch when it comes to greeting their former players but they gave a nice ovation to Phillies outfielder Jeff “Frenchy” Francoeur when he was introduced during the Opening Day ceremonies at Citi Field.
There are few players who are as upbeat and who enjoy interacting with the fans the way that Frenchy does. In the last couple of years, Francoeur has been a journeyman player bouncing from organization to organization. He spent most of last year playing for the San Diego Padres’ El Paso AAA minor league team. Knowledgeable Mets fans were acknowledging their admiration for the fact that the 31 year-old Francoeur was able to defy the odds and get back to the majors.
Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark was at the press conference held at the 40/40 Club in Gramercy Park to promote the middleweight fight between Miguel Cotto and Daniel Geale that will take place June 6 at the Barclays Center.
The Nets had snuck into the NBA playoffs the preceding night, the last day of the regular season, despite having a 38-44 record. Brett Yormark was philosophical. “Look, like everything else, you need a little luck. Keep in mind that the Nets are the only New York professional sports team, besides the Rangers, to make the playoffs the last three years.” While Yormark admitted that the odds were slim that the Nets would be getting championship rings this year, he told me that he was very happy with the performance of center Brook Lopez, point guard Jarrett Jack, and rookies Bogan Bogdanovic and Markel Brown, and predicted the Nets would be an elite team in the very near future.
This Saturday is the annual ESPN Day at the Tribeca Film Festival. Among the offerings are documentaries on the difficulty of hitting a 100 MPH pitch,”Fastball”; 1960s-style drag racing in Castro’s Cuba, “The Havana Motor Club”; and “Gored” which is a look at the career of Spanish bullfighter Antonio Barrera who prides himself on being the world’s most frequently injured toreador.
Non-ESPN sports films being shown at Tribeca this year are “Palio,” which looks at Italy’s most famous thoroughbred stakes race, and a comedy about pro wrestling, “Body Slam: The Revenge of the Banana.”
If the Rangers lose their opening round NHL playoff series to the Pittsburgh Penguins , Blueshirts fans may blame the decision of Madison Square Garden executives to sack longtime national anthem vocalist John Amirante. Although he is 80 years old, Amirante’s strong baritone voice has shown no signs of fraying.
Some teams are more superstitious than others. Whenever the Philadelphia Flyers have an important game to play, they tend to sack “The Star Spangled Banner” in favor of a recording of the late Kate Smith warbling “God Bless America.” When they do stay with our national anthem, it is always Lauren Hart, the daughter of their late broadcaster, Gene Hart, who sings it to an appreciative crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
I attended my first professional soccer game in nearly six years last Thursday when I saw the Philadelphia Union and the New York City Football Club battle to a 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium. NYCFC goalie Josh Saunders had the guts of a riverboat gambler as he constantly wandered far from his goal to make stops and then get the ball down field as far as he could. He could have gotten more offensive support but his team missed numerous opportunities to put more than one past Union goalie John McCarthy.
Yankee Stadium may not be the natural venue for soccer the way that Red Bull Stadium in Harrison, NJ is but it wasn’t as bad as I feared that it would be.
The National Football League continues to embrace new business ventures. Seeing how many people hold elaborate tailgating parties in stadium parking lots on game days, the NFL has started an On Location division which will cater to small groups as well as set up big tents for corporate shindigs on game day.
Last week I wrote about how Major League Baseball had given a license to a company named Wine By Design to create team branded vino and that both the Mets and the Yankees have Cabernet Sauvignon with their names and logos on them. I forgot to mention that you can learn more about their selections and how to purchase them by logging onto mlb.com/wine.
In case you missed the recent New York International Auto Show, there will be another show for the public at the Javits this weekend (April 24-26) which will have an automotive industry presence. Both Volkswagen and Audi will be informing attendees about their electric cars at the annual Green Festival Expo. There will also be food, fashion, travel, and household product exhibitors.
This past Saturday’s 80 degree temperatures in our area was a reminder that summer may not be so far away after all. Last week I wrote about Breyer’s Gelato Indulgences being the company’s foray into the upscale frozen dessert market. Breyer’s is creating a high-end popsicle market as well with Fruttare which combines frozen milk and varieties of fruit on a stick.
Frozen dinners have gotten a deservedly bad rap over the years for being high in sodium but low in nutrition. Things are changing for the better however as the public has gotten more knowledgeable. Sea Cuisine is a company that has proven that frozen dinners can be healthy and tasty thanks to its varieties of cod, salmon and Tilapia that are enhanced by seasonings as Cajun lime, honey chipotle, Italian pesto, and coconut among others. It should be noted that all of Sea Cuisine’s frozen dinners are meant to baked in a conventional oven and not in microwaves.
Cable’s FX continues to churn out innovative programming that rivals premium channels as HBO, Showtime, and Epix. Two weeks ago it debuted “The Comedians” starring comic veterans Billy Crystal and Josh Gad who play fictionalized and more egomaniacal versions of themselves as co-stars of a sketch comedy show.
It will be the end of an era when “Sabado Gigante”, which is hosted by Mario “Don Francisco” Kreutzenberg, ends its 53-year run on September 19. Univision celebrated the show’s 50th anniversary with an event at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria in the fall of 2012.
The Queens Economic Development Corporation had a strong presence at last weekend’s New York Travel Festival that brings together travel industry professionals as tour operators, tour guides, and destination officials, as well as the general public. There was a lot of interest in the debate over what to do with the deserted railroad track area that runs between Rego Park and Ozone Park. The QueensWay organizers brought literature about their plans to create their version of the High Line.
Speaking of travel, Adventures by Disney will begin family cruises along Europe’s Danube River in 2016. Even though it has the Disney name, the company stressed to the media at a press event last week that neither Mickey Mouse nor any of its other iconic characters will be part of this operation.